Cary Blake

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake travelled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in Arizona and California. He also covers New Mexico and West Texas agriculture for Southwest Farm Press.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.

Pacheco family – feeding, clothing the world from the urban fringe

Only a painted concrete block wall and a dirt road separate the Pacheco family’s farm shop and equipment shed from a spanking new subdivision of stucco-based tile-roofed houses next door - about 100 feet apart to be precise.

Despite the closeness between the still rural yet urbanizing town of Marana, Ariz. and the family’s agricultural enterprise, Dan Pacheco keeps hard at work managing the almost 1,600 acre operation.

Photos tell the story - Brown stink bug in California cotton

Two years ago, a new pest menace to California cotton - the brown stink bug - infested fields in the state's Palo Verde Valley in Riverside County. The pest has now caused damaged in cotton for three consecutuve growing seasons.

Cotton losses have been significant. In late August, some growers turned off the irrigation water to their cotton crops and planned to harvest what fiber they could.    

Review these photos to see the pest culprit, its damage, and the actions by cotton leaders to bring future solutions to this problem.

'Red tape' delays brown stink bug control in Cal cotton

The California cotton industry continues in survival mode these days with growers facing water reductions from a four-year epic drought, acreage competition from high-value permanent crops, flat fiber prices, and now the devastating brown stink bug (BSB).

The brown stink bug reared its ugly head two years ago in California’s Palo Verde Valley (PVV) in Riverside County in the southern reaches of the state. The cotton pest has also been found just to the south in northern Imperial County.

2015 Arizona Pecan Growers Association meeting

Members and guests - about 200 total - gathered Aug. 28 for the 2015 Arizona Pecan Growers Association annual meeting in Tucson.

They heard about a wide variety of topics including the recently confirmed pecan bacterial leaf scorch disease in Arizona pecan, an Arizona-specific water study to determine precise water needs in Arizona-grown commercial pecan orchards, and how China should continue to be a large market for U.S.-grown pecans.

Enjoy these photos from the pecan meeting, courtesy of Western Farm Press.


Bacterial leaf scorch confirmed in Arizona pecan

Its official – the Arizona pecan industry has a new plant disease, according to plant pathologist Mary Olsen.

Olsen of the University of Arizona told several hundred folks gathered at the Arizona Pecan Growers Association annual meeting in Tucson in August that pecan bacterial leaf scorch (PBLS) disease was confirmed in Arizona pecan in July with help from the Plant Diagnostic Lab at New Mexico State University (NMSU).

Two diagnostic methods were used to confirm the disease - DNA and ELISA, the latter an acronym stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Skipping alfalfa ‘summer slump’ irrigation has pros, cons 1

Usable water – there’s seemingly not enough for life around the globe despite the many conservation efforts underway to save it.

Four consecutive years of epic drought in California continues to take its toll on available water supplies for users including the food and fiber industries. A ‘down under’ drought in Australia has stretched for nearly two consecutive decades with no immediate relief in sight.

Wine grapes draw next generation of Arizona farmers

About three o’clock in the afternoon, a growing number of Phoenicians climb inside their hot cars, crank up the air conditioning, and head north to higher elevations in Yavapai County to secure a new future in wine grapes.

The end of the 107-mile drive up Interstate 17 and cross country to the northwest on Highway 260 is Yavapai College’s Verde Valley campus in Clarkdale and its viticulture and enology programs.

‘Best pistachio-growing season in years’ for Arizona grower
In late July, Arizona pistachio grower Jim Graham kept one eye peeled on his nut trees while the other busily scanned the horizon for dark clouds and a summer monsoonal rain.
Arizona swings closer to shortage on Colorado River system

Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Thomas Buschatzke says the Grand Canyon State is not in a “water crisis,” thanks to a century-plus of planning which has helped conserve the ‘liquid gold’ amid rapid population and economic growth.

Yet Arizona’s water pendulum is swinging closer to an official shortage tied to prolonged drought in the Colorado River basin and more promises of the same.

Summer tour of central Arizona agriculture - Knorr Farms, Pinal Feeding, and Shamrock Farms

Several hundred of the nation's agricultural journalists and farm communicators gathered in Scottsdale, Ariz. in late July for the 2015 Ag Media Summit. The four-day event included professional development workshops, a farm industry trade show, but started out with a day-long farm tour of central Arizona agriculture.the week of 

Good odds for wet Arizona winter if El Niño remains strong

In late July, University of Arizona (UA) agricultural meteorologist Paul Brown remained bullish about above average precipitation chances this winter in the Grand Canyon State if the current El Niño weather system in the southern tropics continues to strengthen.

Brown is quick to note that a lot can change between now and then. He shared the optimistic weather forecast with alfalfa growers gathered for an UA-sponsored ‘Alfalfa Tent Talk’ held in Buckeye, Ariz.

Western grapeleaf skeletonizer serious, destructive pest 2

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for the legendary Hollywood phrase “I’m B-a-c-k” yet also on the return is the voracious western grapeleaf skeletonizer (WGS) pest in Napa County, Calif. grape country following an eight-year hiatus.

Agricultural officials on June 24 discovered an adult male WGS in a vineyard pheromone-baited trap on Tubbs Lane in Calistoga.

“This is a destructive and serious pest,” says Greg Clark, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner.

Top 5 ways cotton ginners can survive trying times

The official theme of the 2015 Arizona Cotton Conference held in June was “Survival,” amid a plethora of industry concerns including continued low cotton prices, wide fluctuations in planted acreage and related gin consolidation, crop competition, drought issues, and more.

Conference speaker and ginning specialist Tommy Valco at Stoneville, Miss. noted he had seen more serious times for cotton in his 40-year tenure in the U.S. cotton industry.

Second case of HLB disease confirmed in California
Second case of the citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB) confirmed in California.
Allied Grape Growers annual meeting in pictures

The 2015 annual meetings of the Allied Grape Growers cooperative held July 7 and 9 in Fresno and Santa Rosa, Calif., respectively, were full of news and forecasts about California's ever changing wine industry - an industry where change is about a daily affair.

Those gathered at the Fresno site received a sobering look at the likelihood that still more vines will need to come out in the southern San Joaquin Valley; given the supply and demand for interior-grown grapes.

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